The Skills Shortage
So, if you’ve attempted to recruit recently, you’ll be fully aware of the MASSIVE shortage of skills across Software, Data, and IT. There are a few reasons why and there are few ways to maximise the talent out there.
First things first, it’s important we accept there is a massive shortage of mid-level tech talent in the UK. According to Statista, there are roughly 408,000 Software Developers in the UK, which sounds quite good on paper, but that’s 0.6% of the population. In London, there are just under 22,000 Software Developer positions advertised on LinkedIn – let alone advertised across all the other job boards and locations.
Things take a serious turn when you look at positions like Data Engineers. According to LinkedIn there are about 6,500 Data Engineers in the UK and in London (on LinkedIn) there are 7,430 jobs!
The BBC recently reported that the total amount of vacancies in the UK exceeded the numbers of unemployed people for the first time since records began! So we’re all in agreement, there’s a bit of a skill shortage out there right now.
So why is there a skills shortage?
There are a few good reasons for this. For many years, there were no big companies in the public eye doing something interesting with technology. We all know about FAANG (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google) now but in the 80’s and 90’s the closest we got to something interesting was the cast of Friends releasing a video guide for Windows 95. In short, in the 80’s and 90’s there was an image problem in the Tech industry, which spilled over into people interested in getting into it.
Another thing is that we still have a hangover from is the education system in the UK. For many years, most schools used a computer to take the register and show students how Excel worked, and nothing else. There were no really interesting problems to solve, or enough specialist teachers in place to get young people interested in a career in the field in the first place.
Whilst there are 100’s of other reasons why, another major contributing factor was that a lot of IT, Development, and Data jobs were outsourced to other countries. The perfect storm of no supply, and very little demand.
Is it getting better?
In short, yes!
We’ve seen the Tech market explode since around 2007. Steve Jobs stepped onto the scene and brought technology into the limelight with the launch of Apple’s new device, the iPhone. From there businesses like Amazon and, more recently, Twitter have made celebrities of their Billionaire CEO’s, continuing to inspire young people to get into the industry (for better or worse).
We’ve seen Raspberry Pi’s and basic coding introduced into Primary school learning. Some Secondary Schools are teaching coding languages in lessons, and many have Coding Clubs available for all students at various levels of skill to learn alongside like-minded students. And many Universities in the UK are offering brilliant higher education.
And then there’s self-learning. In 2005 a little website popped up called YouTube. The original video was one of the co-founders stood in a zoo talking through some pretty basic facts about elephants for 19 seconds. Now it’s a treasure trove of creativity and knowledge available to anyone for free. This is not only website people are using to self-develop but it doesn’t get much more accessible than that.
The image problems that plagued the industry in the 80’s and 90’s is all but dispersed. With the common uniform of the Tech employee being jeans and hoodie, the office being wherever you pick, and real career opportunities in the industry, we’re really starting to get there.
But how do we recruit now?
In the coming years, we’ll see more and more graduate and junior level candidates hitting the market so in the long-term, the skills shortage should lessen a bit. However, you’ve got a gap to fill in the team now so how do we find people now?
There are three relatively easy things you can change to make your opportunity more appealing:
· Salary – paying above market rate is always going to attract more candidates. No one works for free and whilst money doesn’t make you happy, it sure helps! This is not our recommendation in most cases however. We’ll let you know the average salary of the skillsets you’re recruiting but there are better and more long-term solutions to attract the right people.
· Location – If people must be in the office 5 days a week, you’re going to struggle to find people. Remote working is a hot topic! With recent grads and experienced hires having done at least 1-2 years remotely, we all know it works. A reluctance to incorporate remote working into your own models will hold you back.
· Skillsets – If you’re struggling to make the position remote, and don’t want to increase the salary, have a look at where you can train. You’ll have people working with a certain programming language, way of working, or toolset already in the business. Look at your current team and ask if anyone is ready to take a set up into a lead/mentor position. That opens up your search to more junior candidates and allows you to promote an existing team member – likely increasing your retention.
A great analogy of recruitment is sport. Have a look at where to invest your money. You can try and sign an established 1st Team player, pay the wages and adapt the way your team plays to fit them in, or you can look at youth development. Bringing in people with the right values and the abilities to make it to the first team who just need some mentoring and coaching from a senior pro.
We’re on hand to assist with recruitment strategy, talent mapping, and run you through best practice on finding the best people for your business. There’s no “one size fits all” approach to filling vacancies and we pride ourselves on adaptability and honesty with clients and candidates alike. Feel free to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rise in general at email@example.com if you’d like to explore how we can help you find a solution that works for you during this skills shortage.